Khan al-Khalili

A Novel

Naguib Mahfouz
Translated byRoger Allen

The time is 1942, the Second World War is at its height, and the Africa Campaign is raging along the northern coast of Egypt as far as El Alamein. Aga

English edition
312 pp.
14.5X22.5cm
ISBN 9789774167058
For sale only in the Middle East

$18.95

Browse Wishlist

The time is 1942, the Second World War is at its height, and the Africa Campaign is raging along the northern coast of Egypt as far as El Alamein. Against this backdrop of international upheaval, this novel tells the story of the Akifs, a middle-class family that has taken refuge in Cairo’s historic and bustling Khan al-Khalili neighborhood. Believing that the German forces will never bomb such a famously religious part of the city, they seek safety among the crowded alleyways, busy cafés, and ancient mosques of the Khan, adjacent to the area where Mahfouz himself spent much of his young life. Through the eyes of Ahmad, the eldest Akif son and the novel’s central character, Mahfouz presents a richly textured vision of the Khan, drawing on his own memories to assemble a lively cast of characters whose world is framed by the sights, smells, and flavors of his childhood home. As Ahmad, a minor civil servant who has sacrificed both education and personal ambition in order to support his family, interacts with the people and traditions of Khan al-Khalili, a debate emerges that pits old against new, history against modernity, and faith against secularism. Addressing one of the fundamental questions of the modern era, Mahfouz asks whether, like the German bombs that threaten Khan al-Khalili daily, progress must necessarily be accompanied by the destruction of the past.

Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) was born in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. Kay Heikkinen holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, where she first became interested in Arabic history, language, and literature. She has taught medieval history and literature as well as Islamic civilization, and currently teaches Arabic at the University of Chicago.  
Menu

Cart